Setting the Stage: Bentley heads on the road to Niagara looking to extend the nation's longest unbeaten streak of 11 games, and a seven game winning streak. The series gets underway on Thursday night at Niagara's Dwyer Arena, and concludes on Friday night. Both games are at 7:05 pm.
Bentley's unbeaten streak rolled on last weekend with a sweep of Canisius at Bentley Arena, by scores of 3-2 in overtime and 6-4. The Falcons are 13-7-2 in Atlantic Hockey and 14-11-3 overall. Their 28 AHA points has them in 2nd place, with a three point cushion over both Air Force and RIT in 3rd. AIC leads the way with 35 points, but has played four more games. The top five teams get a bye to the quarterfinals of the AHA playoffs, and the top four get home-ice advantage.
Niagara comes into the series with a 9-11-3 AHA record. The Purple Eagles have dropped four straight after getting swept by Sacred Heart last weekend, and AIC the weekend before. Niagara is 6-4-2 at Dwyer Arena this season.
The Matchup: This series pits two high-powered offenses against each other. Bentley averages 3.29 goals per game, 2nd best in the AHA and 10th nationally. But crucially, they allow just 2.71 goals per game, the 2nd best mark in the AHA. Saturday's 6-4 win over Canisius was the first time they've allowed more than three goals in a game during the unbeaten streak.
Niagara averages 3.17 goals per game, but allows the 2nd most per game in the league at 3.76.
This series will be the first games of the season between the two teams, and the first since November of 2017.
Jago Named Finalist for Senior CLASS Award
Senior defenseman and team captain Tanner Jago was named a finalist for the prestigious Senior CLASS Men's Hockey Award last Friday. He's one of just 10 student-athletes in Division I men's hockey to be a finalist for the award, which recognizes excellence in four areas; community, classroom, character and competition.
On the ice Jago has been one of the top defensemen in Atlantic Hockey during his career. He's played in 142 games entering this weekend, most among active defensemen in the league. His 79 career points is both 2nd most in the AHA, and 4th most in Bentley history among defensemen.
Off the ice he has been Bentley's team captain this season, after being an assistant captain during his junior year. He has been named to Atlantic Hockey All-Academic team three years in a row with a major in finance, and a minor in mathematics and history.
Jago is also on the fan ballot for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award, which fans can vote on until March 10: https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote
Streak Rolls On-Bentley Receives Votes in USCHO Poll: Bentley now has the longest unbeaten streak of any team in college hockey this season at 11 games. They have gone 9-0-2 during the streak. The previous program record at Division I was nine games. The seven winning streak is a new record as well, breaking the six game winning streak they had last season.
As a result, Bentley received the 3rd most votes of any team outside of the top 20 in this week's USCHO Poll. They received 13 votes.
Streak Rolls on, Part 2: Another streak that continued was that of Jonathan Desbiens. The junior winger scored in both games against Canisius, and has now scored in 8 straight games. He leads the team with 13 goals, which is T-5th in the AHA.
OT Winner: Desbiens scored the winner in Friday's 3-2 victory. That followed Brendan Hamblet scoring the winner in Bentley's 4-3 overtime victory against Air Force on Feb. 1. Bentley is 3-1-3 in OT games this season.
Senior Drew Callin also had an overtime goal earlier this season, in a 3-2 win over Sacred Heart on Nov. 3.
Garin Named Rookie of the Week: Freshman forward Will Garin was chosen as the AHA Rookie of the Week on Tuesday, after he had one goal and two assists and was +2 in the sweep of Canisius over the weekend.
On the season, the Minnesota native has 14 points on 4 goals and 10 assists in 24 games. Garin is the 5th Bentley player this season to earn an Atlantic Hockey weekly award, joining Luke Santerno (Player of the Week), Aidan Pelino (Goalie of the Week), Jakov Novak (Rookie of the Week) and Dylan Pitera (Rookie of the Week).
Series Notes: Bentley has played Niagara just 16 times, the fewest they have played any AHA team. The teams have played just twice each season since Niagara joined the AHA in 2010. Including this series, the last four have been played at Dwyer Arena. Niagara hasn't visited Bentley since the 2014-15 season.
Last season, Bentley earned a late 3-3 tie when Jonathan Desbiens scored twice in the final 4:48 of the 3rd period to force overtime and erase a 3-1 deficit. Niagara won the second game 4-3.
Up Next: Next weekend is the penultimate weekend of the regular season. The Falcons return to Bentley Arena on Friday the 22nd against Holy Cross for the final regular season home game of the season. The series then shifts to Worcester the following night.